November 30, 2007

Influenza Drugs Tamiflu & Relenza Linked to Psychosis & Death in Children & Adults

A little over a year ago, we covered a story about Tamiflu, a drug which is used to treat the flu. At the time we found out that it was causing psychotic symptoms in children prescribed it in Japan. Now a new story discusses that these side effects are not just limited to children and that another influenza treatment, Relenza, is also causing psychotic side effects.

This news is particularly serious because these drugs, Tamiflu taken as a pill, and Relenza with an inhaler, are the most commonly used medication treatments for the flu. Further, the side effects have progressed, there are now, according to the new story, some reported deaths caused by these two drugs.

Over the last few years governments throughout the world have been building up their stocks of Tamiflu as a precaution to a possible future mutation of the H5N1 bird flu virus, which could cause a serious flu pandemic. As recent concerns regarding Tamiflu have surfaced, its sales have lost some steam. Tamiflu sales are 62% lower this year when compared to 2006, while Relenza sales have dropped 7%.

FDA employees looked at 596 cases - most of them in Japan - of patients experiencing psychiatric side-effects which may be linked to Tamiflu use. Three Japanese adults committed suicide while on Tamiflu while five children died. Since 1999, when Relenza was approved, there have been 115 reports of psychiatric events, of which 74 were children.

As a result of these findings, a panel of experts convened this week in attempt to discern the safety of these drugs--we don't know the results of their meeting yet. Nevertheless, the FDA has already recommended that people of all ages should be warned against the side effects of these drugs. The reason for the side-effects isn't yet known. Experts aren't sure whether solely the drugs, the virus influenza, or a combination of both causes the side effects. [Read More About the Flu and Schizophrenia Here.]

Full Story: Tamiflu And Relenza Should Have Psychiatric Side Effects Warning, Say Regulators. (Medical News Today)

Additional Reading:
Influenza Vaccine
Flu During Pregnancy Linked to Schizophrenia


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